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Wed 18 Sep 2019 05:09 PM

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How National Geographic plans to document UAE's journey into space

Four-part documentary film premieres on Thursday, a few days ahead of historic International Space Station mission take-off

How National Geographic plans to document UAE's journey into space
The UAE's first astronaut Hazzaa Al Mansoori with back-up Sultan Al Neyadi.

National Geographic, in partnership with Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), announced on Wednesday the release of its first movie documenting the UAE’s journey into space.

The new documentary, which is the first of a four-part film series, premieres on September 19 ahead of the historic International Space Station (ISS) mission take-off, with Hazzaa Al Mansoori as the first Emirati and only Arab aboard.

Astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi will also be present at the launch, acting as reserve astronaut for the mission.

The film is accompanied by short vignettes with exclusive coverage on the astronauts’ final preparations for their upcoming mission which spotlight Al Mansoori and Al Neyadi’s intensive training with prime and backup flight crews in Russia, after completing training with the European Space Agency and NASA.

A father of four, Al Mansoori joined MBRSC as an astronaut following a career as military pilot and he hopes to inspire the nation by hoisting the UAE flag inside the ISS on September 25.

“It will be a great honour to be the first Emirati astronaut to reach the ISS... I remember in grade four I read in my school  book about an Arab astronaut, Prince Sultan bin Salman Al Saud, and I thought that’s it – it’s possible for me. That’s why I applied to join the air force – it felt a little bit closer to the stars.”

Al Neyadi added: “I believe that our journey is just a continuation of what our ancestors started. They studied the stars for centuries and gave them many Arabic names. When we explore space and raise the UAE flag on board the ISS, we are the nation’s ambassadors. We hope to accomplish this mission perfectly.”

The film also charts the establishment of the UAE’s space industry over a decade ago and introduces viewers to one of the UAE’s most daring projects to date, the 2020 Hope probe, part of the Emirates Mars Mission due to reach the Red planet by 2021.

With unprecedented behind-the-scenes access, the film follows the journey of the first Emirati Astronaut Corps, part of the UAE Astronaut Programme and their preparations for launching into space.

With exclusive footage, it also captures the development and historic launch of KhalifaSat, the first satellite manufactured entirely by Emirati engineers and successfully launched in 2018.

The show premieres on National Geographic Abu Dhabi at 8pm UAE time on September 19, with repeated airings on September 22 at 10pm UAE time and on September 23 at 8pm UAE time.